North Carolina GOP chair: Fault lies with rioters, not Trump
The chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party on Tuesday refused to place blame for the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol on former President Trump, stating that only those who participated in the riots bear responsibility.
“Look, I think that the rhetoric and actions that we saw on Jan. 6, the actions that we saw from the protesters that attacked the Capitol, are horrific and unjustified,” Michael Whatley said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”
“There is no rationale that could excuse the actions of those people that went into the Capitol that caused the violence, and the deaths and injuries that we’ve seen from that are truly horrific,” he added. “But I think the fault lies with those people who attacked the Capitol.”
Pressed by CNN’s John Berman on whether Trump deserved any blame for the events on Jan. 6, Whatley demurred, reiterating that the rioters themselves were the ones at fault.
“I think the responsibility lies with those people who broke the law, who attacked the Capitol, who attacked those police officers and caused the violence and mayhem, which is completely reprehensible and unjustifiable,” he said.
Whatley’s remarks came three days after the Senate acquitted Trump on impeachment charges of inciting an insurrection. All 50 Democrats in the chamber and seven Republicans voted to find the former president guilty but failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to convict him.
One of North Carolina’s two Republican senators, Richard Burr, was among the seven GOP members to vote against Trump in the impeachment trial.
The state Republican Party’s central committee voted unanimously on Monday to censure Burr for his vote, saying in a subsequent statement that the trial was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer the president.
The censure has virtually no practical effect on Burr. Nor is it likely to have a political effect. Burr, a three-term senator, announced in 2016 that he will not seek reelection in 2022.
Speaking on “New Day” on Tuesday, Whatley said that party leaders whom he had spoken to in the days since Trump’s acquittal had overwhelmingly expressed disagreement with Burr’s vote to convict the former president. But he insisted that the party’s censure of the Burr was not “a statement against Richard Burr as a senator.”
“I don’t think this is a statement against Richard Burr as a senator,” Whatley said. “I think this is a statement that we disagree with that particular vote.”